On the pursuit of happiness
Therefore, there are two models before us. One is the biological model, borne out before us by our lived experience when we truly feel happy watching other people's happiness; the other is a cultural one, which equates happiness with what we possess and revolve around a norm about who should be considered happy. As individuals, we balance the two by drawing increasingly narrower circles around us, trying to generate that happiness feeling by making happy only the members of our own families, at once producing the Oxytocin that we need to survive and not being laughed at for do-gooding foolishness.
In reality, therefore, the pursuit of happiness is really a pursuit of selfishness, a culturally driven search for a biologically awkward mode of living. And, this search is the foundation of the modern politics, because only by getting everyone to buy into this particular idea of happiness, one can truly limit the agency of small people. That individuals have no power other than to withdraw their two inalienable attributes - their labours and their desires - was well understood by the great leaders who stood up to the powerful. But no one can truly appreciate their own ability to change the world as long as they remain locked in to this all-encompassing and unfulfillable pursuit of fulfilment. The wrong idea of happiness that we live by, as it turns out, is an essential ingredient of our misery.
But the limits to power, one hopes, will come from within. The circle of selfishness is self-corrupting, as it helps to pass on to succeeding generations the opposite set of values other than are needed even to pursue happiness of this wrong kind. The urge to look after the acquisitive happiness of our offspring makes each succeeding generation a little too entitled, a little too idle, until this sloth and idleness break the very chain of acquisitive ability. It is the Rome problem, arising from within and prosperity rather than from without and outsiders, a historical illustration perhaps of where the pursuit of happiness eventually leads to.